What Should the GOP’s Closing Argument Be?

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In less than two months, the nation’s voters will be able to vote in the federal elections.

Republicans are increasingly concerned that Democrats might be making a comeback. These fears are based upon three facts.

The polls show a Democratic surge.

Low-quality candidates are running for the GOP banner.

Trump’s microphone grows again

Whatever your personal feelings, data exists that supports these fears and shouldn’t be dismissed. Republicans should take a deep breath and not panic about these facts. If Republicans want to keep the long-rumored “wave” they were hoping to form, there are positive developments and a path forward.

It is almost certain that Republicans will win the House in November, regardless of what anyone might tell you. No matter how qualified the candidate or polling, redistricting will ensure that this happens. Washington and the majority of the media seem to agree with that. What number of House seats will the GOP control?

However, the bigger problem for Republicans is the race to control Senate. There is a 50-50 split between the two parties, with the Democrats having the edge due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote. There is narrow polling showing that the split could prevail, rather than the chamber falling under GOP control.

The GOP’s concerns about polling are based on panic, but may not be aware of historical trends. RealClearPolitics’ Tom Bevan broke down historical trends and noted that the current tightness in polling, especially where the Generic Congressional Ballot concerns, could actually be indicative of a wave.

Look at 2014, another great Republican year. The same pattern emerged, as usual, leading up to the election year. In 2013, the Democrats had a consistent lead that grew to over 6 points in October. However, it disappeared at the year’s end. The two parties were basically on par for most of 2014. During the whole of 2014, neither party had a lead of more than 2.5%; in many cases, it was less than one point.

With a 1.4% lead on the generic congressional ballot, Democrats entered Labor Day weekend 2014 with a 1.4% advantage. Then, things changed. Ten days later, the GOP held a nearly four-point advantage over the Democrats. This lead would not be relinquished. The GOP won a 5.7% win in the national vote over the Democrats on Election Day. This resulted in a pickup of nine Senate and thirteen House seats.

Bevan’s analysis suggests that we might not be looking at the 2010 midterm numbers, numbers that were extremely good for Republicans. However, there is every chance that the numbers could shift back towards the GOP. The Democrats currently ride a wave of lower gas prices and legislative victories, as well as the Dobbs decision. However, this excitement is fading. Biden’s economy and inflation are still in crisis. Voters are still concerned about the “kitchen table” issues (inflation and unstable job markets, supply chain issues, etc.)

Polling done in different states shows that the Democrats might not be as strong or as popular as they think. Georgia’s Stacey Abrams is not the governor. Brian Kemp was not leading Gov. at any time, but Herschel has been trending ahead of Sen. Raphael Warnock during recent polls. A surprise poll, though from Trafalgar, shows that the New York Governor’s race has become closer than one might think. Rep. Lee Zeldin is only five points behind. Nevada’s Adam Laxalt is just one point behind Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Ohio is currently trending red. J.D. Vance’s lead over Tim Ryan doesn’t seem to be as strong as Republicans would like. Blake Masters began closing the gap between Vance and Mark Kelly in August.

Pennsylvania is the only race that has been a major concern to the GOP, and it should be. There are signs, however, that the tide is turning against John Fetterman. This is especially after an editorial in the home state newspaper questioned whether Fetterman would be able to stand on the Senate Floor and discuss the most important issues facing the country.

This should also ease some concerns about candidate quality. Yes, Republicans would love J.D. Vance would be running in Ohio ahead of Tim Ryan, and Mehmet Oz should not have been the GOP candidate for Pennsylvania. There is still a 50-50 split if the GOP wins Georgia but loses Pennsylvania. If the GOP wins Georgia, Nevada, or Arizona, you have a 51-49 edge. Although there was no chance that the Republicans would win a filibuster-proof Senate in their favor, even a one-seat advantage can be considered an advantage.

The biggest worry for the GOP is whether Trump’s legal issues and whether he will announce a run for president before the midterms are resolved. Since Trump was removed from social media, he has been without a platform. The media has worked hard to keep him in the headlines. Trump being indicted in the middle or the end of an election cycle could increase the GOP’s motivation. This is because the DOJ, at best, appears politically motivated.

Trump’s announcement of a presidential bid seems unlikely considering that the RNC threatened to end financial support for legal battles if Trump does. He also has many legal battles …) which would distract from the GOP campaign messaging. Trump and the DOJ are likely to make a statement. Neither side is willing to take any risks.

All of this begs the question: What should the GOP’s strategy be?

The GOP should focus on positive messaging in this final stretch. As President Joe Biden’s speech last Wednesday demonstrates, the Democrats are running on fear and division. Both sides of the political spectrum saw that speech as the home stretch speech for the Democratic campaign. According to rumors, even Democratic strategists admit it was a poor move. The speech and optics were terrible.

The GOP can also learn from Herschel’s most recent ad campaign for Georgia that focuses on unifying voters. Republicans can borrow from the 2020 Biden campaign’s promises of normalcy and unity as more voters worry about their future. To help voters feel better about their future, they should focus on the positive. Democrats are spouting dire warnings about the future. The GOP should offer a brighter solution.

Voters need to be reassured, if they are not relieved completely, about their concerns right now. If the GOP decides to end the infighting and close this election cycle on high, the GOP will be in the best position to accomplish that.